By Anna Kayser
The Iowa volleyball team was swept by No. 1 Penn State in a low-intensity match on Wednesday in Carver-Hawkeye.
“It really was just all on us. You know you have to get it on your side, and if you don’t get it going on your side, then it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the net, whether they’re ranked No. 1 in the country or lower,” senior middle blocker Jess Janota said. “That’s on us tonight, and we’re just going to have to reflect and get it going.”
The Nittany Lions made quick work of the Hawkeyes in the first set in a 25-10 win that took fewer than 30 minutes. Iowa was held to a minus-.073-attack percentage, with Janota coming in with a team-high 3 kills.
The beginning of the second set started off closer, featuring six ties and four lead changes. A 9-2 run gave Penn State a 15-9 lead, and that was enough.
The Nittany Lions ran away with the lead, extending it to 24-14. Iowa attempted a comeback, but Penn State took the set 25-17 and the match advantage 2-0 going into the break.
In the second set, the Hawkeyes had 11 kills with a .226 attack percentage. They also had 4 team blocks and held the nation’s leader in attack percentage Haleigh Washington to 2 kills in the second set.
Penn State took control immediately in the third set and never faltered.
Iowa kept it close in the beginning but never mustered up enough intensity to battle the Nittany Lions. Penn State widened the gap as the set went on, taking advantage of communication errors to take the final set, 25-12.
The Hawkeyes had a .000 attack percentage in the third set to finish out the match with a .040 average. Junior outside hitter Taylor Louis led the team with 8 kills and a .148 attack percentage.
“I think this is one of those matches that we just have to forget and move on, and know that it’s never going to happen again, and try to figure out why it happened,” senior libero Annika Olsen said. “[We need to] know that we need to give more on our side of the net as a team.”
Holding a steady intensity throughout an entire match has been key for Iowa’s success this season, and that lapsed Wednesday.
The Hawkeyes came out flat to start off the first set and the few short bursts of intensity weren’t enough ground to take control of the nation’s best team.
“When you don’t start well, it just makes it that much more difficult for you to turn the switch on with intensity,” Janota said. “That’s something we battled the whole night and didn’t quite get there.”
Following the tough loss at home, there are some learning opportunities that can be taken into the final five matches of the season.
“We have to compete harder than that, period, and the teachable moment right now is the choice that we’re going to make in the days to come,” head coach Bond Shymansky said. “Every athlete, it doesn’t matter what your level is, you have a choice every time you step out on the court, and the choice that we’re going to have to make if we want to get to the place that we want to go, is to work our very hardest.”